Whether we have heard it on celebrity news or during language arts class, we all can probably define the word, ‘entourage.’ This word is used to describe any large groups of people attending or walking with an important person such as a celebrity.
This word has become frequently associated with cannabidiol (CBD), yet most of us are unaware of why this is being done. We can assume that based on the definition, CBD is said to be the important person.
The people surrounding it are other chemicals and substances such as terpenes and phytochemicals. Even with this information in mind, it can be difficult to understand what exactly the CBD entourage effect is. Before understanding what the effect is, it is important to know what CBD is and how it functions.
What is Cannabidiol?
CBD is a type of cannabinoid, a molecule that can both be created by the human body and synthetically. Cannabinoids are any molecules that can influence the body’s endocannabinoid system by interacting with cannabinoid receptors.
The body’s endocannabinoid system or ECS for short is a neurotransmission system responsible for regulating internal body functions such as appetite, sleep, temperature, pain-perception, and more. It does this by maintaining internal homeostasis.
The ECS creates endocannabinoids within the body on command as they are needed. If your body lacks endocannabinoids, cannabinoids might be prescribed by your physician. These molecules will interact with the cannabinoid receptors and tell them to create more endocannabinoids.
CBD is one such cannabinoid that has been used by people for therapeutic purposes such as anti-inflammation and pain reduction. It can be derived from both the leaves of hemp and its cousin, cannabis. CBD usually comes in various forms of products such as oils, tinctures, lotions, edibles, vape, and more.
What are Terpenes?
While people may be familiar with cannabinoids and substances derived from the cannabis plant, most are less familiar with terpenes. Terpenes are the chemicals in plants that give them their specific taste or scent. Most of us come in contact with various terpenes throughout our daily lives. Here are a few of them:
- Mycerne- mangos
- Limonene- citrus fruit peels
- Eucalpytol- eucalyptus and tea trees
- Nerolidol- lemongrass and ginger
When thinking of a few of these plants and fruits, we often remember exactly what their aromas smell like. The aromatic, sweet scent of a mango or the enticing, mouth-watering smell of citrus fruits are both caused by terpenes.
As strange as it may sound, the above-listed terpenes can all be found in the cannabis plant. However, because different strains of cannabis have evolved to have unique smells, the number of terpenes in each vary.
Terpenes are not only responsible for smell. They also function in cannabis to protect the plant from invading bacteria or fungus. Their scent works to attract various pollinators.
Terpenes are also beneficial to the human body as well as plants. When used with CBD, the effectiveness of both substances is enhanced. This combination is called synergism. Here are a few of the found effects this synergism can have:
- Limonene- enhances mood
- Pinene- increases alertness
- Eucalyptol- anti-bacterial properties
- Nerolidol- enhances effects of other compounds
While terpenes by themselves are beneficial and have countless advantageous effects, the entourage effect shows what happens when terpenes and CBD are used together.
The Entourage Effect
Researchers and avid users of CBD have been aware of the entourage effect for many years. The entourage effect describes the enhanced therapeutic abilities that CBD has on terpenes, in addition to other phytochemicals have when used together. By using them together rather than in isolation, there is an increase in health benefits.
Science credits two scientists, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Shimon Ben-Shabat for the discovery of this synergistic effect. Dr. Mechoulam had discovered that the human body produces endocannabinoids. He also studied how they interacted with the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid receptors.
In the year of 1998, the two scientists theorized that using other fatty acid chemicals along with cannabinoids would create a sort of synergistic effect. In 2009, the theory was finalized by another scientist and broken down.
The theory has several components:
- The synergistic effect can affect many areas of the body.
- It improves the body’s ability to absorb chemicals through the blood-brain barrier.
- It helps with overcoming bacterial defense mechanisms.
- It has few side effects.
The Differences Between Terpenes and Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids have the ability to directly interact with the body’s ECS while terpenes only work as an enhancement on the effect said cannabinoids have. Cannabinoids can affect receptors from the entire central and peripheral nervous systems. Areas of influence may include the brain, spinal cord, nerve bundles, and more.
When taken by itself, terpenes may have their own specific impacts. Of course, this depends on the type of terpene and what it is chemically composed of. If you have ever heard of terpenes prior to this article, you may have heard of the word, ‘terpenoid’ as well. It is important to make a distinction between the two.
The Differences Between Terpenes and Terpenoids
If you are an avid CBD user or know someone who does, the term, ‘terpenoid’ may have arrived in conversation at least a few times. The two terms while having a similar background, are slightly different in terms of meaning.
Terpenes, by chemical composition, are called hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are compounds containing only hydrogen and carbon molecules. These bonds can be formed in numerous ways.
By physically or chemically altering terpenes, you can create terpenoids. This is usually done by drying them out in which the terpenes undergo the process of oxidation. The end result is none other than terpenoids.
How Does Someone Experience the Entourage Effect?
When taking CBD products with the intention of experiencing the entourage effect, it is important to avoid consuming products that are CBD “isolate” or pure. You should instead opt for a product that contains other phytochemicals such as terpenes or terpenoids in addition to CBD.
Two types of CBD products that will result in the entourage effect are broad and full-spectrum CBD. Broad-spectrum will contain a majority of the phytochemicals found in cannabis and hemp, while full-spectrum will contain all of these substances.
Be sure to read the chemical composition on the back of your CBD product before purchasing it. This will help you identify whether or not the product will result in an entourage effect experience. With the wonders of this effect, CBD users everywhere can receive the enhanced therapeutic benefits they so deserve!